|Census Report: States request help with prison gerrymandering New Census Bureau report conveys states' desires to avoid prison gerrymandering Read more||New report supports ending prison gerrymandering, improving Census accuracy Recent report focusing on the Census' methods of collecting and tabulating race and ethnicity data addresses prison gerrymandering. Read more||Historic election for "one person, one vote" in Maryland Next Tuesday will mark the first state-wide election in which people vote from districts that count incarcerated people in the right place: at home. Read more|
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Looking at the 2000 Census, the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. In a series of reports, we put numbers on the problem of prison-based gerrymandering, suggested solutions, and sparked a national movement.
Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:
“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”—Brent Staples
Called prison gerrymandering, the practice finds its clearest example in Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.
|50 State Guide to Fixing Prison-Based Gerrymandering
by Peter Wagner, Aleks Kajstura, Elena Lavarreda, Christian de Ocejo, and Sheila Vennell O'Rourke, March 2010
Preventing prison-based gerrymandering in redistricting: What to watch for
by Peter Wagner and Brenda Wright, Prison Policy Initiative and Demos, February 23, 2011 [En Español]